In the 1980's Georgetown was seen by some as "Black America's Team", a recognition of the success engendered by head coach John Thompson. Few knew the story of the first African-American to play at Georgetown, Bernard White.

White's family moved from Illinois to northern Virginia in the early 1960's, where he enrolled at Luther Jackson High School, a segregated school in Falls Church built for black students in Fairfax County as Virginia schools had not yet integrated. The president of his high school class and a member of the National Honor Society, White enrolled at George Mason College, then a satellite branch of the University of Virginia with less than 1,000 students.

White enrolled at Georgetown in the fall of 1965. An introductory article in The HOYA reported that "In the backcourt for the Baby Hoyas next season will be 6'1" Bernard White. White is a former captain of Luther Jackson High School in Fairfax, Va. As a senior...he canned 20 ppg and snared 10 rebounds on the average. White may be the first Negro ever to play for Georgetown."

Bernie White arrived to a very different Georgetown than what is seen today. The two first students of color were not admitted into the College until 1963. As late as 1965-66, the Ye Domesday Booke yearbook had photos of only two black students among the entire College.

Although various Catholic colleges nationwide had fielded integrated teams as early as the 1930's, Georgetown stood as one of the last major universities not to recruit African-Americans. A long line of standout athletes from the Washington area, including Elgin Baylor, John Thompson, John Austin, and Dave Bing, among others, were either turned down or passed over by Georgetown, which chose instead to recruit among white Catholic high schools in northern New Jersey.

Following White's freshman year, O'Keefe left Georgetown, and White played sparingly under new coach Jack Magee. The Georgetown media guide of 1967-68 wrote: "A finance major, the 6-2 junior is a scrappy player who will serve his team well as a reserve. Has good jumping ability and an uncanny knack for stealing passes." White played in just 26 games over three seasons, shooting 43% from the field as a junior and averaging 2.0 points per over his GU career. With little playing time as a senior, White left the team after the 1968 fall semester to focus on his studies.

Following graduation in 1969, White settled in Chicago, becoming active in city and state politics, having been named to the post of Managing Director for the Illinois Office of Minority Business Enterprise and as small business coordinator for the Illinois Department of General Services.

White suffered a stroke in 2005, returning to the DC area to be closer to his family. A former roommate of White, Illinois governor Pat Quinn (F'71), helped arrange for a halftime presentation to honor White at a Georgetown basketball game. White's family took him to his 40th class reunion in 2009 and he later took residence at the Woodbine Rehabilitation Center, where an outbreak of norovirus in the facility was reported to have contributed to his death in 2014.

Season

GP

GS

Min

FG

FGA

%

3FG

3GA

%

FT

FTA

%

Off

Reb

Avg

PF

Ast

Blk

Stl

Pts

Avg

1966-67 7 15 2.1
1967-68 15 13 30 43.3 4 5 80.0 21 30 2.0
1968-69 4 7 1.8
Totals 26 52 2.0
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